An early goal by Ghanaâ€™s midfielder Afriyea Acquah just 2 minutes after the start completely disturbed Malawiâ€™s plans to shock the Black Stars at Civo Stadium in the capital, Lilongwe.
Even Flames coach Kinnah Phiri looked stunned that his charges let in the goal so early in the game.
â€œWe knew that they would attack us in the first half but I was surprised that we conceded so early in the match,â€ said Phiri. And the hosts never came back into the game.
A defensive lapse in the box, found an unmarked Acqua who tapped in a Christian Atsu ball from the left wing to kill Flames dream of an upset.
Acqua was the last minute inclusion in Kwesi Appiah squad after the injury of Emmanuel Badu who was on club duty when his team Udinese Calcio was playing Liverpool in Europa League midweek.
The goal made the task to shock Ghana even harder for Kinnah Phiriâ€™s boys as they needed to score 4 goals past the Black Stars to progress and make it to the Afcon 2013 tournament next year in South Africa.
Kinnah described the result as â€˜bad lack.â€™
â€œIt was purely bad lack that we conceded that goal. I think we were better than them the way we played but we just could not create chances. It has happened and that football,â€ said Kinnah after the match.
Flames had so many shots off target in the first half and the closet to a goal was twice when a Joseph Kamwendo had a clear shot at goal nine minutes into the game.
Kamwendo was set up by Gabadinho Mhango who was making his debut for the Flames but his fine attempt was parried away by Ghana keeper Adam Kwarasey.
Essau Kanyenda who was one of the best players of the day for the Flames also had his clever attempt saved by Kwarasey a couple of minutes later.
Gabadinho header in the 15th minute caught Kwarasey napping but the ball just missed the goal by inches to the dismay of the full house Civo.
â€˜Out of steamâ€™
The youngster had fans on their feet cheering as he displayed some fancy work but he got easily tired and run out of steam for the better part of the game and he had to rested.
In came Atusaye Nyondo who was passive for the better part of the second half.
Flames pushed forward with Kanyenda orchestrating but sadly he pulled some muscles in the 69th minute to be replaced by Robin Ngalande.
Ngalande too just like Nyundo failed to tick.
Kinnah pulled out his final ace in Chiukepo Msowoya for defender Steve Chagoma but it was too little too late as nothing worked for the Flames.
Ghana defended well and despite an array of stars playing in Europe did not play any worthwhile football in attack. They had one chance and they took it.
It ended Malawi 0, Ghana 1 and Ghana 3 Malawi 0 on aggregate to book a place at the Afcon final in South Africa.
In summing up the game Black Stars coach Kwesi Appiah told reporters after the game:Â â€œI am happy with the result. We did not play well but we managed to defend our goals and score one here. It is a good result,â€ said Appiah.